The game that wasn't

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

CHENGDU, China -- Even Pellerud caught his team heading to the hotel elevators.

"I had to yell at them," said the Canadian coach.

"No game! Go back!"

As if playing in China isn't enough of an experience, having a game called off two hours before kickoff added to the adventure.

For a sportswriter, if nothing else, it's pretty good time zone training for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

This is a column about a game which has already been played (CBC, 3 a.m.) after having been postponed a day.

MET MEDIA IN HOTEL

Pellerud was dressed down in a cowboy shirt and blue jeans when he met the media in the lobby of the team hotel at what was supposed to be game time for the win-and-go-on, lose-and-go-home game against Australia.

"I've experienced a lot in this game, but this certainly ranks high on the list."

A protest being upheld?

"Never happens," he said.

It's like the B sample not matching the A sample in track and field drug testing.

"Usually when it comes to protests, they just ignore them," said Pellerud.

"I guess it was just mounting pressure on FIFA from all sides. It wasn't just one or two teams. It was all the teams."

Canada and Australia had protested the concept of not playing on the same day and at the same time as Norway-Ghana.

Apparently those two teams didn't like it either.

As it turned out, all the teams in the group and all four teams in Group D - China, Brazil, Denmark and New Zealand - also protested.

"This is the right decision. The decision is correct. It's the timing," said Canadian manager Les Meszaros.

Two hours before game time? Australian coach Tom Sermanni reacted the same as the Canadians.

"It's disappointing to find out so late. But it's what we wanted. It allows all the teams to be on an equal footing."

He said it maybe even helped Australia.

"It allows us an opportunity to fully recover from a few little niggles," he said.

It all started with typhoon Wipha, allegedly a killer typhoon, projected to be possibly the worst here in a decade but one which ran out of ooomph en route.

Ghana-Norway and Brazil-Denmark were moved from Shanghai to Hangzhou and rescheduled from Wednesday to Thursday.

With the decision, Canada-Australia here and China-New Zealand in Tianjin were moved back 24 hours to put both games in each group on at the same time.

This is how FIFA spin doctors put it in a statement released after the game would have started:

"Thanks to this decision, the last matches in each group will be played simultaneously, in accordance with Art. 25, paragraph 2 of the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 Regulations. FIFA could not apply this article yesterday due to the force majeure case - the uncertainties of the weather - and in accordance with Art. 34 ("special circumstances") of the same Regulations. The new match schedule also complies with the requests of the participating teams."

Pellerud simplified it.

"No game! Go back!"

SLAPSTICK SCENE

It was all rather slapstick.

"There was a lot of 'What?'," said Pellerud of the players' reaction. "There were no upset players about it. We've dealt with all sorts of things like this in our travels. You just don't expect it at the World Cup.

"The players just went straight down in pulse, had a workout in the hotel, and were reminded in the next 24 hours not to use any energy."

Canadian defender Martina Franko, said "we agree with it. It makes it an even playing field. But to hear Even tell us as we were walking to the elevators ..."

What do a group of young women in this situation do?

"Go shopping," said keeper Erin McLeod of Calgary as she headed out with Ottawa's Kristina Kiss at what would have been half-time.


Videos

Photos